Joaquin Benoit Rumors
The Tigers spent $16.5MM on Joaquin Benoit because they considered him one of the best available relievers. And because a couple other clubs also made three-year offers, anything less would have fallen short. Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers did not like the idea of losing Benoit to one of his other suitors.
"When you want to get the best players at certain positions, you have to be aggressive and prepared to do things," Dombrowski said on a conference call this morning.
The Tigers will use Benoit as a setup man to closer Jose Valverde in 2011. They have considered adding another left-handed reliever to a bullpen that could include southpaws Daniel Schlereth and Brad Thomas, but Dombrowski says it's not a priority because Valverde and Benoit are effective against hitters from both sides of the plate.
The Tigers are not expecting Benoit to post a 1.34 ERA again, but they believe he'll be a top setup man as long as he's healthy. The 33-year-old passed his physical and says his 2010 production shows he's just fine.
"For me last year it was just to see how my arm was going to respond," Benoit said. "Obviously it came back really good."
Dombrowski says the Tigers have been signing players aggressively since they had a number of free agents and were prepared to make offers right away. But they're not done yet.
"We're still in a position where we think we can make a move and solidify the middle of our lineup with someone," Dombrowski said.
Talk about rebuilding value. The Tigers officially signed righty reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5MM deal today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He can earn another $1MM per year in incentives. It's the biggest contract for a non-closer reliever since Scott Linebrink's four-year, $19MM pact with the White Sox three years ago. Benoit's last contract had been of the minor league variety with the Rays, but now he'll be paid $5.5MM annually. The contract is another big score for the Levinson brothers at ACES, who also did the deals for John Buck, Brandon Inge, and Jhonny Peralta.
Benoit was one of baseball's best bargains in 2010, as he posted a 1.34 ERA, 11.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, and 38.9% groundball rate in 60 1/3 innings. Benoit was available cheaply because he was coming off rotator cuff surgery performed in January of 2009. The Rays will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss.
This time around, the Tigers had to pay full sticker price with a commitment reminiscent of the Astros' three-year, $15MM deal with Brandon Lyon a year ago. Benoit will set up for Jose Valverde in 2011, and could close in the following seasons. The Tigers' biggest offseason deals are yet to come, as they're expected to add a big bat or two. Tip of the hat to MLBTR's Mark Polishuk, who correctly predicted the Tigers would sign Benoit.
Benoit is off the board, but right-handed relief remains a strong suit of this year's free agent class.
A few more links for Wednesday night...
- In addition to all the other trade targets and free agents they've been eyeing lately, the Rockies have inquired on Andruw Jones, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Mets completed two of their four second-round managerial interviews today. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork has extensive post-interview remarks from Bob Melvin and a briefer comment from Chip Hale, with Terry Collins and Wally Backman due up tomorrow. Rubin tweets that Sandy Alderson expects to announce the team's new skipper by next Tuesday.
- The Yankees hope to further their discussions with Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee this week, writes Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. Lee is "about ready to entertain offers," Nolan Ryan tells Heyman (Twitter link).
- Some opinions from past and present Red Sox players: David Ortiz guarantees Vladimir Guerrero will return to the Rangers, while Lou Merloni argues that the Sox need to trade Jonathan Papelbon. The Dallas Morning News and WEEI.com have the details.
- A baseball official tells Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that he could see the Rangers, Brewers, and Blue Jays becoming involved in trade talks for Zack Greinke.
- They've made plenty of moves already this offseason, but the Marlins may not be done yet. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post passes along a quote (via Twitter) from Larry Beinfest that suggests the team will pursue a starting pitcher.
- MLive's Steve Kornacki thinks Joaquin Benoit is "absolutely" worth the $16.5MM the Tigers spent on him.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports considers Ken Williams' offseason plans - A through E.
Benoit signed a minor league deal with the Rays in February and was one of baseball's best bargains. The righty posted a 1.34 ERA, 11.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, and 38.9% groundball rate in 60 1/3 innings. The 33-year-old was available cheaply because he was coming off rotator cuff surgery performed in January of 2009. This time around, the Tigers had to pay full sticker price.
Two days ago we learned that Padres GM Jed Hoyer is willing to listen to trade offers for Adrian Gonzalez (and Heath Bell), unsurprising since the first baseman is reportedly seeking close to $22MM annually when he becomes a free agent next offseason. In today's blog post (Insider req'd), ESPN's Buster Olney lists a few reasons why the Pads are more likely to wait until the trade deadline to move their franchise player...
- Ticket sales. After surprising success in 2010, the team doesn't want to lose the trust of the fans by dealing their best player before the season.
- The Padres have a chance to compete in 2011 with Gonzalez in the middle of their lineup, but without him it'll be close to impossible.
- Other clubs wanting to acquire Gonzalez might be more desperate during the summer, which could result in a better package for San Diego.
- Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe points out that Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod worked for the Red Sox before joining the Padres, so they have strong first-hand knowledge of Boston's prospects.
Here are the rest of Olney's rumors...
- Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, and Jayson Werth will dominate the headlines when free agency begins at 12:01am ET Sunday morning, but Olney lists ten more interesting free agents, led by Joaquin Benoit, Pedro Feliciano, and Orlando Hudson.
- The Yankees could place their first bid on Lee very soon, perhaps within 72 hours. Anthony McCarron of The New York Daily News hears something similar.
- Crawford is in a unique situation because he's an elite player that could have six or more teams bidding for his services. Usually players of that caliber only have three or so teams after them.
- The Yankees operate with the knowledge that no matter how popular the individual player is, the team and its fan base will move on. This of course refers to Derek Jeter.
Some links to check out as Cody Ross attempts to follow up yesterday's two-home run performance and the Phillies look to even the score...
- Speaking of Ross, Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News reports that Giants GM Brian Sabean left a "clear impression" before tonight's game that the outfielder will be tendered a contract this offseason.
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweets that Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale is getting a second interview for the Blue Jays managerial position.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that the Mets have been "asking around" about Rangers GM Jon Daniels, and things could get interesting. Daniels can opt out of his contract after the season since the team was sold.
- Steve Popper of The Bergen Record says that the Mets might not be making the popular choices right now, especially with Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Castillo, but they're the right moves.
- Popper also reports that the Tigers denied the Mets permission to talk to assistant GM Al Avila about their GM vacancy.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Eric Young will be named the D'Backs first base coach later this week. In a second tweet, he says Eric Wedge's former pitching coach Carl Willis will likely play a big role on his new staff in Seattle.
- Despite the expected heavy interest from the Yankees and Rangers, Michael Silverman from the Boston Herald thinks the Red Sox should make a serious run at Cliff Lee.
- In the second page of that same article, Silverman quotes an unnamed executive in saying that a package consisting of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and prospect Anthony Rizzo wouldn't be enough to pry Adrian Gonzalez away from the Padres. He speculates the names that would be mentioned next would include Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias.
- Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports says it makes more sense for the Orioles to trade for a middle-of-the-lineup hitter and an ace starter than seek one in free agency, and asks readers whether or not the O's should pursue Zack Greinke. In his blog post earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney didn't see Baltimore as a fit for the Kansas City ace.
- Reduced payroll will force the Rays into some tough decisions, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. As Topkin points out, nearly the entire bullpen is entering free agency. Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit, and Chad Qualls are only signed through 2010, while Dan Wheeler's $4MM option will be declined and Lance Cormier could be non-tendered. Balfour and Choate are most likely to return, while Benoit will likely look to capitalize on his monster season.
- Richard Griffin from the Toronto Star spoke with Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who could be a candidate for the Jays' managerial opening, about the difficulty of getting a foot in the door as a manager. As Griffin says, part of the reason they continue to interview candidates while other teams are filling their managerial positions could be because they have a high level of interest in someone like Mackanin, whose team is still playing.
- The Phillies' worst nightmare isn't losing to the Giants in the NLCS or losing to the Yankees in the World Series, according FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. It's going to the World Series and facing the ace they traded away last offseason, who now sports a Rangers uniform -- Cliff Lee.
Let's round up the highlights from Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe....
- One AL executive tells Cafardo that he's never seen so many candidates interviewed for managerial openings: "It’s amazing to me that you wouldn’t know within, say, two or three candidates who you want. But I guess in some cases the GM’s job is also on the line if he picks the wrong guy."
- Matt Stairs would like to play for at least one more season. While he says he'd like to return to Boston, he concedes that he'd probably play "anywhere."
- An NL scout was positive about A.J. Pierzynski, suggesting that he'll be one of the most attractive catching options on the free agent market, behind Victor Martinez and John Buck. "With A.J., you know he’s not going to throw people out," said the scout. "But there’s nothing wrong with his receiving and he can still hit. I know the fire he has can rub people the wrong way, but I think that’s great for a team."
- Brandon Inge has a good chance of landing a starting role this winter, given the lack of free agent third base options after Adrian Beltre. However, Cafardo wonders if Inge could eventually become a Bill Hall-esque utility player, given his ability to play a few different positions.
- Possible bullpen targets for the Red Sox include Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, and Brian Fuentes.
- A market appears to be developing for Lance Berkman. Teams like the Rockies, Orioles, Mets, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks could have interest.
- Carlos Delgado underwent another hip procedure two and a half weeks ago, but is rehabbing the hip and feels like he'll be able to play in 2011.
Most MLBTR readers said R.A. Dickey was the best minor league signing of the year when we voted earlier in the month, but the Mets fell out of contention long ago, so Dickey didn't have much of an impact on this year's pennant race. The five minor league deals below had lasting effects on the 2010 pennant race:
- Rays sign Joaquin Benoit - The reliever has a 1.39 ERA in 61 games with 11.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. Amazingly, Benoit has allowed just 28 hits in 58.1 innings.
- Reds sign Miguel Cairo - There are bigger stars on the Reds, but Cairo has batted .289/.352/.411 and played all four infield positions. Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty deserves credit for this find.
- Yankees sign Marcus Thames - Thames has hit .287/.352/.500 this year with 12 homers in 227 plate appearances.
- Giants sign Pat Burrell - GM Brian Sabean bought low on Burrell, who has responded with 17 homers and an .869 OPS in San Francisco. Burrell is playing the way he did in 2008 and without that kind of production, the Giants probably wouldn't be leading the NL West.
- Padres sign Chris Denorfia - Denorfia has hit .264/.332/.435 in 302 plate appearances for the Padres, who have seen outfielders Tony Gwynn and Kyle Blanks miss significant time with injuries.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe breaks down the 2010 Red Sox and what members of the team may not be around for 2011. He says Jayson Werth will be a free agent target and wonders if they're willing to commit three or four years to Adrian Beltre, who is having a monster season. Jacoby Ellsbury and Daisuke Matsuzaka could be trade bait, and then there's the issue of David Ortiz's $12.5MM option.
Let's round up the rest of Cafardo's rumors...
- There have been "minimal, if any" talks between the Sox and Victor Martinez about a new contract.
- Expect Boston to revamp their bullpen, which could mean replacing Hideki Okajima.
- Carfado believes that the Rangers settled ownership situation will help the team down the stretch as the players don't have to deal with any speculation.
- Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit, a pair of offseason pickups that are the Rays' two best relievers, will need to have their workloads monitored down the stretch, particularly Benoit who is coming off major shoulder surgery.
- The Angels have close to $110MM tied up in 2011 payroll counting arbitration raises, which could hinder their pursuit of free agents this winter.
- Kenny Williams says that teams never asked for Dayan Viciedo in a trade because they knew he was unavailable. We heard that Williams was willing to trade him before the deadline.
- A split between the Mariners and manager Don Wakamatsu seems likely this offseason.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels told fans that the Rangers will explore ways to add difference-makers this summer and are prepared to trade some prospects in the right situation. Daniels made some more hot stove-related comments while chatting at the Dallas Morning News today - here they are:
- The Rangers didn't want to offer Ivan Rodriguez or any other available catcher a two-year deal last winter and they're content with their decision.
- They're reportedly interested in catchers, but don't have a timetable for bringing Jarrod Saltalamacchia back.
- The Rangers look for upside and makeup in players they draft, regardless of the player's level.
- Daniels is in favor of trading draft picks since it would give teams flexibility.
- Daniels wouldn't rule out signing Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton to extensions.
- It was just time for [Joaquin Benoit] to move on."